|For me, sexuality is our deepest desire for authentic connections. "Fleshing out" this deep desire is being sexual. This does not mean that if I want an authentic connection with someone, I ought to have sex with them. Instead, I believe that there is always a sexual aspect to every relationship, just as there are mental, emotional and spiritual aspects to every relationship. I can give a friend a hug when I see him. I may look an aquaintence directly in the eye when she tells me a story. I take time for myself by relaxing in a steamroom. I might take the hand of someone who is in need of consolation. These are all examples of being physical, sensuous - sexual with people I am connected to. Using the idea of sexuality in such a broad manner at first may feel uncomfortable, but the more I become conscious of how I interact with others and myself, the more I discover how sexuality plays an innocent part in our everyday lives.
Actually having sex seems to be one of the most intense (if not the most intense) and pleasurable means of communication. Most of us discover that the depth of this connection has a natural propensity towards one gender or the other. I have a strong attraction towards the male gender (as if you didn't know that already) and am quite happy and content about it. But understanding my sexuality has been a challenging journey and I explain why on the next page called, integration.
However, this journey is not over, yet. Sexuality is so important to our humanity (just like survival and hunger) that I have decided to further my schooling on the subject. The Institute of Advanced Study for Human Sexuality is the only independent school of Sexology in the world, and it resides here, in San Francisco (surprised?). In the early 90's, when I heard of the Institute, it felt as if I found a piece of my life puzzle, like when an event occurs during a movie that doesn't make sense to the plot until the end. Along with this puzzle piece, I had a growing awareness that I didn't want music to be the only career throughout my life. I couldn't imagine myself singing at gay pride festivals in my golden years. But what fulfills me most about music is the effective communication and fertile relationship that I can create between myself and an audience. This was something I wanted to develop more. Fortunately, I began to notice that same fulfilling connection in the workshops I teach, and the puzzle piece fit into the picture! I can't think of a more important, yet more neglected aspect of humanity than sexual maturity and education.
I started attending IASHS in October of 2001. I'll be studying and attending classes until January, 2004, at which point I'll take my comprehensive exams, and if I pass, I'll begin my dissertation project. Once that is complete, I'll have a Doctorate of Education in Sexology. This kind of doctorate is "teaching" focused, and qualifies me to teaching at the university level. This is different from a Ph.D. which is more clinically / medically focused. I look forward to teaching in some capacity, but right now I am just trying to keep up with studies (don't even ask me about my dissertation yet!).
The Institute is designed so that students from all over the world can attend. Many of the students are already medical doctors or therapists looking to expand their education. The year is divided into trimesters, in which the first three to four weeks of each trimester is devoted to "in house classes" that require attendance. The rest of the trimester is spent doing independent studies and lots of video classes. This has made the camaraderie a little difficult, but the experience gained from an international student body is worth it! Just in my class alone (that started in October 2001) is a married, mother of two, gynecologist from Switzerland, a transgendered person from Japan, the leading gay novelist in Taiwan, a public speaker from Canada, another gynecologist from Africa, a social worker from LA, a crunchy granola masseuse from Santa Cruz, and a few therapists from around the states.
Classes cover all the bases, with subjects like, Sex and Disabilities, Erotology (the study of erotic art and objects), Sexual Anthropology, Anatomy, Sexual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, Sex Education, Clinical Sexology (sex therapy), Gender, Understand Sexual Fantasy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections, Sexual Health, Sexual Challenges (as in "dysfunction"), and Techniques.
Another aspect of study is becoming desensitized to the wide variety of sexual activities. Obviously, if someone came to me in fear and trembling to "confess" their sexual fears, it would not bode well for me to repel in disgust! Therefore, I am required to view 100 hours of "explicit media." The Institute has the world's largest library of erotic material. I tell you, there's nothing I haven't seen now! You don't even want to know what I've seen! But, it works. I doubt there's anything a person could tell me about their sex life that would shock me.
With all this going on, it might be hard to believe, but the information is pretty academic. However, a large portion of class time and homework is spent reconciling factual information with all the misinformation and "baggage" about sex that we carry individually and as a culture. This is where the real work is done! Therefore, the focus is not about grades (whew!) but comprehending and processing the information. Depending on the class, we often write a paper about its content, but also how it has effected us personally. You know, I just eat that kind of stuff!
A few of the classes have been "no brainers." Most of the classes have been very intense regarding our views of sexuality. More specifically, this kind of education has really challenged my own "baggage," often, in ways I did not anticipate. Since sexuality is such a basic aspect of every person, when we begin to focus on its health, we also touch many other aspects of our well being. To tell you more, and to give you an insider's view of my experience, the rest of this novel... er, page, is an excerpt from a paper I wrote about the class, Attitudes Towards Sex and Disability. Little did I know this class would profoundly heal a life-long, impairment of my own:
Now that I am a budding Sexologist, (it's odd to occasionally say, "You know, I am a professional!") please feel free to ask me any question of a sexual nature. It goes without saying, but I'll hold them in the strictest of confidence. Just think, in a couple of years, you can call me "Doctor Rix," or as my friends have joked, "Doctor Sex!" I would love to write about the many other stories and miracles I have experienced in this unique education process. Unfortunately, I gotta' study.
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